The Heights Great American Pie Contest, with the Houston Heights Association, brought out some of the neighborhood’s best bakers – 35 to be exact.
On Monday, July 10, neighbors were invited to submit their homemade pies to be judged by a celebrity panel for bragging rights and prizes. Bakers could enter in a Sweet or Savory category. In total, there were 30 Sweet Pie submissions; 5 Savory. All were welcomed to taste and enjoy a night shared with community
In attendance, the judging table was acclaimed with Greg Bucholdt, Heights pie blogger; Levi Rollins, Owner and Culinary Director of Urban Eats; Ken Bridge, owner of Delicious Concepts. Cleverly Stone, Ken Hoffman and Ken Bridge were not in attendance, giving a couple Heights neighbors a chance to taste in celebrity style for the night.
On the left is a look at the many entries in this year’s contest. In the middle (left), JoNell Gerland took First with her Buttermilk Pie and Kris O’Brien (right) took First place with her Chicken Curry Pie. On the far right is Maureen Demar Hall’s third place Zuchini Pie (photos by Christina Martinez).
Overall, the judges were looking for marks on Presentation, with overall appearance underlined; Flavor of Filling, with doneness and texture underlined; Crust, with color, flavor, texture and doneness all underlined; Originality, with creativity and uniqueness both underlined.
“There were several really great pies,” Judge Levi Rollins said. “Some top standouts for me were the whiskey pecan, strawberry rhubarb, salted caramel, chocolate whiskey pecan, but my favorite was the perfect Buttermilk, number 32. It was awesome and the winner for the night!”
Heights neighbor and blogger, Greg Buchold, was a judge for the event – kindly asked after a couple judges did not show – and also entered a pie in the Sweet category, a Blue Hawaiian.
“The pie was adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book and the crumble is from Martha Stewart,” Buchold said. “The recipe comes from a blogger who adapted the best selling pie from A la Mode Pies in Seattle.”
Buchold also shared his pie recipe with us – see below.
From the Savory side, Kris O’Brien took First place with her Chicken Curry Pie; Jenn Allen took Second with her Tomoto Pie; Maureen Demar Hall took Third with her Zuchini Pie.
From the Sweet side, JoNell Gerland took First with her Buttermilk Pie; Yvonne Cusgrove took Second with her Strawberry Rhubarb; Amy Alexander took Third with her Chocolate Whiskey Pecan Pie.
Well done, ladies, on your sweet placings!
Blue Hawaiian (Blueberry Pineapple Pie with Coconut Crumb Topping) recipe
- 1 batch single-crust pie dough (your favorite recipe)
- 1 1/2 pints blueberries (about 3 cups), rinsed
- 3 cups chopped pineapple [I used canned, drained pineapple]
- 1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, and grated
- ¾ cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons instant tapioca (not tapioca pudding!) [I used 3 Tbsp Bob’s Red Mill tapioca flour]
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- pinch salt
For the Coconut Crumb Topping (From Martha Stewart )
- 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Coarse salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sweetened shredded coconut (3 ounces)
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into pieces
- 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
YIELD: 1 9-INCH PIE
- Make the coconut crumb topping: whisk together the flour and 1/8 teaspoon of salt. In a food processor, pulse the coconut until finely ground. Add the butter and brown sugar and pulse until combined. Add the flour mixture and pulse until the mixture forms clumps. Set aside.
- Roll the pie dough into a 12-inch circle on a floured surface. Press into a 9-inch pie pan or deep dish tart pan, trimming and crimping the edges. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes-until you are ready to use it.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place 1 1/2 cups each of the berries and the pineapple into a medium pan set over medium heat. Mash several times with a potato masher to release the juices. Cook the berries and the pineapple, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes, until reduced to about 1 ½ cups.
- While you are cooking the berries and pineapple, place the grated apple into a clean dishtowel or several layers of cheesecloth and squeeze tightly several times to drain away as much of the liquid as you can.
- Combine the cooked berries/pineapple, apple, uncooked berries, sugar, tapioca, lemon zest and juice, and salt in a large bowl. Pour into the prepared pie crust and top with the coconut crumb topping. Place on a baking sheet to catch anything that might run out.
- Bake the pie for 25 minutes then rotate the pan and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for 35-50 minutes longer until the crust is brown and the pie filling is bubbly. Cool for at least 4 hours at room temperature before serving.